This is Pentecost Sunday. Yes, I know last week was the official feast, but every mass is designed to be a Pentecost of its own, where the Holy Spirit comes down on everyone and prepares them to go out and spread the good word. That’s why Father Pete noted in his “Joy of the Gospel” session this week that people who leave mass early miss one of the most important parts: the dismissal. This is where the priest blesses the congregation and enjoins them to go in peace and continue Christ’s mission.
“The mass is ended, go in peace,” does not mean goodbye. It’s a call to action, and therefore, a Pentecost moment. When you walk out those doors, ask yourself “What did the Spirit tell me during mass? What moved me?” That information isn’t meant to be kept private. If your answer to these questions is “nothing,” you’re probably not listening.
This week’s would be a good mass to listen intently. The readings themselves are calls to action. The first reading (Dt 4:32-34, 39-40) kicks them off with Moses rallying the Israelites:
“Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live? … You must keep his statutes and commandments that I enjoin on you today, that you and your children after you may prosper, and that you may have long life on the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you forever.”
We are heirs at the reading of our Father’s will—except he’s not dying and his will is that we share our inheritance with each other. In our second reading (Rom 8:14-17), Paul explains the meaning of that inheritance:
“We are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.”
That’s the part of the reading of God’s will where many heirs might say “I’m out.” Maybe that explains why so many leave mass early—they don’t want to suffer being separated from the rest of their day a moment longer than they have to.
But it’s Jesus himself who reminds us in today’s gospel reading (Mt 28:16-20) why the end of mass is just the beginning of what we are called to do as his co-heirs:
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
That’s the most important message of every mass, and it comes at the very end with our celebrant’s “Go in Peace.” If we pass up that “go,” we don’t collect our inheritance—and we’ll miss out on a lot more than $200.